Singapore Airlines is one of the most highly rated airlines but surprisingly some people are actually very underwhelmed by the business class experience for a number of reasons. I think that ultimately Singapore has one of the best business class products out of any airline but only for people with certain preferences. Here’s my take on whether or not Singapore business class is overrated.
There are a few different types of business class on Singapore Airlines. They’ve got an angled flat product that you’l often find on many regional flights (e.g., flights to Australia) and two other products that you’ll find on most long-haul flights on the A380s, A350s, and 777s.
The older product came out in 2006 and the revamped product came out in 2013. I’ll focus on these two products since that’s what I have experience with and it’s what you’ll find on the long-haul international flights.
Note: Singapore Airlines will be operating new business class products in late 2017/early 2018 on the A380/A350 (and another new product on its regional A350 and 787) and the new products should be revealed on November 2, 2017.
The first thing you’ll notice about the seats is that they are very wide, probably the widest business class seats in the world. With such wide room, you’d expect them to be one of the most comfortable seats but that’s not necessarily the case. Here are the major complaints about the business class seats.
The biggest knock against Singapore business class is probably the sleep comfort and this complaint is the result of a few factors.
The seats in the A380s, A350s, and 777s are designed to force you to lie/sleep diagonally. This is due to the footwells that are built into the seats in front of you on the side. You can clearly see this pictured in the photo of the A380 below.
This is less of a problem if you are shorter than around 5’10” and like to sleep curled up or in a diagonal position. If that’s the case then you probably won’t have many issues because the seats are very wide and make is easier to get into a comfortable curled position.
However, if you’re 6’0″+ and like to sleep with your legs stretched out straight, these seats will cause you problems because it’s simply not possible to sleep like that. This is why so many people have complaints about these seats. On an ultra-long haul, it’s very hard for these people to stay comfortable.
Limited footwell space
The second issue which is related to the first is that the footwells or “cubbies’ are not very spacious. On some aircrafts they are more spacious than others. For example, the 777 new style business class is slightly more spacious than the A350. The 777 also has slightly more room in the footwell than the A380 with the old style business class seats. But still, the space is limited and if you’ve got big feet, this can compound the issue of being forced to sleep diagonally.
The solution is to choose the bulkhead seats. The bulkhead seats on Singapore Airlines will give you so much more room that it’s like flying an entirely different type of hard product.
For example, I sat in 11F on the Singapore A350 (which many claim is the best seat on the entire plane) and I had a very comfortable (and quiet) experience with plenty of room. You can also choose the bulkhead seats on the windows but they’ve got slightly less space and the two interior bulkhead seats seats 19D/F are very close to the busy galley area and can get noisy.
Sometimes these seats are blocked off when choosing a seat, so you might try calling in to reserve them. It’s possible that they will not allow you to reserve them as some have had issues with that and unfortunately I’m not aware of any sure-fire way to get around the seating blocks.
Another complaint is that the seat does not recline directly into a flat sleeping position. Instead, you must flip down the seat to form the bed. People that like to switch between lie-flat positions and reclining throughout a long-haul flight find this tedious and disrupting.
The flight attendants will generally help you fold down your seat into a bed and it’s honestly not hard to do (once you figure out how it’s done), so this isn’t a major issue for many. However, I do prefer to be able to slide my seat in and out of a lie-flat position at will since sleeping can be an issue for me on planes, so this option is not ideal for me.
Hard bed surface
Many people don’t find the bed surface comfortable because it’s just too hard.
I agree that the bed surface is not soft but with the the thin “mattress pad,” pillows, and blanket offered I was still able to get comfortable. I was even able to lie on my stomach in this seat and get a little bit of sleep. My head/face was a bit crammed in that position, but it worked out at least for a couple of hours.
The hardness of the bed surface is something I don’t understand and hopefully will be something that will be fixed next go-round. Also, on some aircrafts, the seat may not align perfectly with the footrest when made into a bed, making for a slightly annoying experience.
Cramped cabin space
This complaint is mainly directed toward the A350 since others like the A380 have plenty of cabin space.
In the A350 people find the cabin, aisles, pitch (when seated) and even the lavatories to be confining since the A350 is little over a foot more narrow than the 777. Personally, I didn’t feel like this was a major issue on the A350 but it was noticeably less spacious (even the upper deck of the A380 is wider than the A350).
There’s a lot of positive to the Singapore Airlines business class experience, however.
The service on Singapore in business class is still exceptional. Every now and again, it might not live up to expectations but when the crew is “on,” it feels like you’re in first class. And that’s because they are super attentive and happy/courteous like you typically find in first class.
Also, I’ve really enjoyed the dining and drinking experience in Singapore business class. From Singapore Slingers to chicken dishes and seafood, I’ve been impressed by the presentation, quality, and options offered by Singapore.
I think Singapore Airlines is somewhat overrated for many people. If you’re over six feet tall, like to sleep straight, and can’t get a bulkhead, there’s a chance you’ll struggle to be as comfortable as you’d like. However, if you can get the bulkhead seats then Singapore can offer one of the most comfortable business class seats out of any airline. And if you’re flight crew is “on” that day, it will feel like first class — the furthest thing from being overrated.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.